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Spastic_Dove 12-26-2010 01:04 AM

Feeling Insecure About Abilities
So some of you may know that last year I switched from my background in western to an eventing barn. I absolutely love it and enjoy the change in direction and the challenge, but I'm starting to feel in over my head. Money is hard to come by for me so I take a lesson a week but that's about all I can afford and barely that. I don't own any actual riding clothes other than half chaps so that alone is a little overwhelming thinking of what I need to do.

The bigger issue though is my riding. I feel I have progressed, especially in my thinking. I now understand the goal of how I want to allow my horse to carry himself and ride from back to front but I am still trying to figure out how to do that. In lessons I can pick it up pretty quickly, but on my own I get lost.

Then there's the jumping. I tend to jump about 2'3. I have jumped 2'6 and 2'9 in the past, but my position isn't solid enough for me to be confident over them. I'm not really fond of it over the smaller stuff honestly. I feel secure when I do it but then I go back and look at pictures/video and cringe.

The thing that sparked this though is my move. Apparently the intro classes start at 2'7 down there. Seeing a bunch of 10 year olds jumping their ponies with their eyes closed over fences that haunt my dreams is a little disheartening to say the least.

Obviously I won't bother with showing until I am confident at home, but I thought by now I would at least be able to safely jump the smallest courses available. My trainer seems confident in me as does the girl I half lease from and the person whose horse I will be riding once I move. I can't help but hear all the warnings about unsafe jumping and poor position and feel like I'm just fighting an uphill battle.

This is mostly rant, but if anyone has their own experiences or advice it would be helpful. I've included a few cringe worthy pictures (been posted in critique sections before) just for the heck of it.

*hands out cheesecake for those who read this*

ETA: Just wanted to note that I do see what I need to fix in the pictures (these from early summer) but I just have to figure out how to consistently do it :roll:

MIEventer 12-26-2010 01:57 AM

You know, I was just having this discussion with my Coach. I ended up hindering my jumping, because I was so self consumed with my position. "Where's my lower leg?" "Where is my seat?" "My chest?" "Am I releasing enough" and so on and so on and so on - and my Coach ended up putting a halt on that all together.

She told me that North America has become so consumed with "Equitation" - to the point of it making the whole sport a distress to the rider, and "not fun" anymore and even to a point where their Equitation, has become a hinderance instead of a forwardness in progression and improvement.

So, she told me to stop. Who cares she says - she told me to look at many of the Top Level Eventers, where many of them have autrocious equitation...BUT, they get the job done and they get it done well.

Yeah yeah, Equitation = Functionallity - what point? I used to be a big "Equitation" Nazi, but now...I really don't care anymore. My Coach is teaching me, that as long as I am balanced over my feet, over my horses center of gravity and I remain with my horses motion, that's all that matters. It doesn't matter where my lower leg it or where my seat is or this and that...all that stuff that consumes my mind when I am jumping....instead of just enjoying the ride.

So, my advice to you, is just that - stop worrying and stressing so much about it...and just ride and have fun. I see people with far worse equitation than where you are...and they are doing Advanced, Prelim and Intermediate levels of eventing, in my area - without an issue.

And your equitation isn't all that bad at all, all you have to do is close your angles istead of opening them - but, again, so what. Just enjoy yourself, have fun and ensure that you are staying out of your horses way, so that they can do their job.

Now, I wouldn't be saying that to an absolute beginner, but you - you already have the base and the foundation, all you need is a bit of tweaking...big whooptie doodily doo I say - go and rock the CC world, if that's what you want to do. You are not hindering your horses in any way at all and you're safe.

With the riding clothes - it looks like you have 2 pairs of breeches as it is. I can send you a set of white breeches, depending your size, and I have a bunch of other breeches hanging around that I can donate to you. Even a jacket. I'm more than happy to help in any way that I can.

I think you are your worst critic here - let it go and just have fun. My Coach is also a Degree'd Psychologist who is venturing into the Sports Psychology department, and she told me the other day, after coming back from a seminar - that sometimes I have to "Fake it till I make it" *my fear with stadium* and told me to come up with a "Song" I chose ..

I sing that now, when I am doing Stadium Jumping. Just relax, don't over stress and just get it done.

My Coach has me do a lot of 2 point work as well, getting my feet under me where I am balanced over them, activating my core, tall upper body, relaxation and just working on going with my horses movement, instead of going against it.

Lots of work, but it'll get there.

I hope that helps.

Spastic_Dove 12-26-2010 02:22 AM

Gosh, I just want to give you a hug! You have no idea how helpful that is.

I always feel so accomplished and like I am moving forward after a lesson until I have someone tape me or take pictures. I look at them and I just want to reach in and pull my hips back, bring my elbows up, and slap the piano hands right off of me!

You made a good point that I hadnt realized. I've been getting so stressed out about it that I'm taking away the fun of it for myself which is the reason I got into it in the first place.

I have that tan pair in black as well. Someone in the critique section mentioned that the crotch was... long? I have to hike them up my middle like mom jeans to make sure there isn't extra fabric but they otherwise fit me well (Cant remember the size. Im about 5'5, 150lbs and a size 8 pants). I would gladly give you as much money as I could come up with, that's so generous of you!

The plaid pants are actually $4 leggings from JCPennys. They can be a little slippery but I rode in them all summer and didn't wear them too bad. I don't know that you'd be able to show in them but they've worked for schooling shows here.

So here's a quesion for you.
Like I mentioned when I go over the 'bigger' jumps (2'6 or 2'9) I tend to get popped out of the saddle the first time or so. Do I fix this by just practicing over jumps of that size? I'm usually okay after I get 2 or 3 jumps under my belt, but the first one always catches me off gaurd because I tend to jump smaller and in my comfort zone?

I have been slacking in the 2 point practice. I think I'll do some of that this week and start taking my stirrups away more often. I feel and have been told I have a good lower leg, but it does slip behind me sometimes. Plus it couldnt hurt.

I have a bad habit of being very unmoving which of course makes the horse brace against me. I feel I've gotten better in that department with practice but I'm going to be taking up some dance class like zumba and swing to help me control my body and move effectivly (and get me back into shape). Speaking of which, I think I'll have to put this on my ipod so I can listen to it before my lesson...

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Spastic_Dove 12-26-2010 04:17 AM

For those that are interested, here's the pre-training course that I have as a goal to do by the end of the year.

I find it terrifying. SJ I am at least more practiced at.

mbender 12-26-2010 07:34 AM

I don't know anything about jumping, positions and that but I credit those that do dressage, jumping, and all the shows and cross country. I would never have the strength to deal with the day to day stress that comes with these disciplines.

I knew right away in the beginning of your post that you lost your enjoyment of what you do. When a person looses that, its time to back up and remember why you do what you do. It also can hinder your relationship with your horse. There can be mixed messages and chaos will only come from it.
TIME OUT! Relax, take your time, and have fun. About your position: not sure. Try not to focus so hard on it I guess.
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MIEventer 12-26-2010 10:34 AM


I have that tan pair in black as well. Someone in the critique section mentioned that the crotch was... long? I have to hike them up my middle like mom jeans to make sure there isn't extra fabric but they otherwise fit me well (Cant remember the size. Im about 5'5, 150lbs and a size 8 pants). I would gladly give you as much money as I could come up with, that's so generous of you!

I am more than happy to help. You know, I have been given MANY a thing throughout my days of riding, and many by complete strangers. I've been given saddles, winter blankets, pads, riding clothes, expensive show boots, anything you can think of, I've been given - and I believe "What goes around comes around" and I firmly believe in "Pay It Forward" so I am more than happy to give you what I don't use.

I am not sure of the sizes, some are 34's and the Show Coat is a 12. I have grey breeches that I never wear, I have tons of white breeches where I only use 2 out of the lot. I have a couple of show blouses I don't use, and I have a bunch of riding tights that are going to waste. I'll go through them. I don't know what shipping will be. But shoot me your address and I'll see what I can do.


Like I mentioned when I go over the 'bigger' jumps (2'6 or 2'9) I tend to get popped out of the saddle the first time or so. Do I fix this by just practicing over jumps of that size? I'm usually okay after I get 2 or 3 jumps under my belt, but the first one always catches me off gaurd because I tend to jump smaller and in my comfort zone?
Practice makes perfect! Work on your two point, not to "perfect" your position, but to help you solidify yourself. Do the work my Coach has me do, and teach yourself/memorize where you have to be, over your horse to beable to remain with him.

So, when in your saddle, get your leg under you, get your bodies weight absorbed into your heel. Toes out a bit, calf around your horse. Get your seat slightly out of the tack, just enough where you can slide a hand under your butt, open your chest, low hand carraige where your arms are flowing with your horses motion, tall upper body where it is just slightly ahead of the verticle and learn to just go with your horse.

Now, I don't have phenominal equitation, and when I watched this video over and over and over, I cringed and moaned and thought how horrible I look...but you know what, I stayed over my horse, I stayed out of his way and we got the job done. So what if my lower leg flung back, big deal. At BN and N, so what.

Watch me, on approach to fence 4. See my 2 point position at 0:58, and see how Nelson took a big spot, but I remained with him! That's the important key factor. Staying with your horse, and out of their way.

What is happening, is you are getting left behind and that's why you are getting this "popped" out feeling. Just work on that 2 point I explained and work on staying with his motion.

Right now, with Stadium, my Coach is having me go over smaller fences. X rails pretty much, to learn to just leave Nelson alone. I got into the habit of micromanaging every stride, and I ended up with a very bad habit of holding him 5 strides in, instead of releasing him 5 strides out. So, my Coach has me just staying in that 2 point, over his center, just staying with his motion, and letting go of him 5 strides out and leaving him alone.

It's because I get so scared, I tense up and hold him instead of just having fun and going with the flow of things. So that's why she also threw in that "Theme Song" for me, to help me relax.

It is working great, and once I get the groove of things, we'll bump the fences up, and bump them up, and bump them up until I get back to 2'11.

So, go back to the small stuff for now, the comfort zone, and get that nack of staying over your horse, functional 2 point and staying out of his way. Until it is 2nd nature - then bump them up. Stay at that height, until you get it. Doesn't have to be perfect, but until you are comfortable with it, and that height becomes your comfort zone. Then bump them up, and repeat process until you get to the height you need to be, for competition.

DON'T STIFFEN UP! RELAX and BREATHE! That's what I do, I tense up, lock up and Nelson braces against me, and we end up fighting between the fences, instead of working together. It's because of my fear, so it's an every day, working process.


Tymer 12-26-2010 12:08 PM

I feel like often times proper position just comes with time and MUSCLE. Mostly muscle. For a span of time I had killer leg muscles and my position was absolutely fantastic. I DO believe proper position can save your a**, and your horse's a**, more often than it will hinder you. But then I took a major fall and lost almost all of my riding muscle. My position was immediately terrible again.
But you really just have to relax and it will come to you. Don't tense up and everything will be fine. Once you start jumping really high stuff you can work a little harder on position but for now you're FINE. Hating on yourself will do nothing.

(BTW I'm digging the plaid legging-breeches.)

Tymer 12-26-2010 12:10 PM

And by the end of the year you want to do that? Forget that, just focus on relaxing and doing what you're doing now well.

Spastic_Dove 12-27-2010 12:47 AM

Haha thank you Tymer! The plaid breeches are my favourite! I do have that course as a goal for the end of 2011, but if I don't get to the point I think I'll be okay so long as I keep getting more comfortable and less tense over the fences.

Mbender you are right too. There's no way my stress and tension doesn't translate to the horse. The last thing I want is a tense and stressful horse. I jump about once a week and sometimes only do dressage. MIE, I think I will take your advice and really work on my two point. That video was helpful because like you mentioned the equitation isn't perfect but you are riding effectivly and letting Nelson do his job.

Like everyone mentioned I get very tense. I freak myself out over my position not being perfect and try to fix that rather than ride. I thought that by changing my position I would be more effective but I'm beginning to see the opposite is true-- very similar to what MIE was describing with Nelson.

It's so obvious now but it didn't even click to me that is why the looseness through my horses comes and goes. :roll: I guess that's just another typical time when we think we need to fix something with the horse but really it's something we are doing wrong as the rider.

Everyones given me really good advice and I think a lightbulb is finally going off and now I can practice on these things. Mainly relaxing and practice practice practice hopefully that won't only help with the relaxation but with building up the proper muscles.

Spyder 12-27-2010 02:07 AM

Here is an exercise I have used for my people that I have taught that want to include jumping but get that tense feeling when they simply jump one jump then another.

Just ride as if you are doing flatwork/dressage. Bend the horse go in circles, leg yield and do not think of jumping and IF you have worked your way near a jump just go over it. Then go back to sitting and trotting left and right, whatever and add a canter and pop over another jump.

The key here is to not just start a canter make a turn and canter up to a jump like you planned on jumping 20 strides beforehand.

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